Monday, June 27, 2016

Book Review: The Child Whisperer

In the 9+ years that I've been a mother, I've read many parenting books. Among the parenting books I've read in the last few years, one stands out far above the others: The Child Whisper: The Ultimate Handbook For Raising Happy, Successful, Cooperative Children by Carol TuttleOver the last two years since I read this book, it has really improved my life and my relationships with my children.

What Is Unique About This Parenting Book?

Most parenting books provide one-size-fits-all guidance for raising children.  The Child Whisperer is different. Instead of giving guidance that can be applied to all children, it seeks to give parents an understanding of different types of children.  By focusing more on understanding each of the different types of children, this book lays a strong foundation that can be used for parenting children who are very different from each other. 

One of the things that really surprised me as a parent was how different my son and daughter are.   They move through life differently, they need different things, and they react to corrections differently. Techniques that work for one of them often do not work for the other. The Child Whisperer has finally given me the framework to understanding my children, and how they are different from each other as well as myself. By knowing more about who they are as individuals, I am able to parent them each uniquely, and am better able to meet their needs.

The Different Types of Children (and Adults, Too)

The Child Whisperer describes four energy types that apply to children as well as adults. For children, the four types are summarized as follows:

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One thing I love about using Carol Tuttle's four energy type system is that it is much bigger than just a personality profiling system.  When determining a person's energy type, a person's body language and facial features are actually used in addition to personality and tendencies. This method seems to really capture the essence of each person, and that allows for a much greater understanding of each other.

Practical Tips for Each Type

Once the foundation of each energy type is laid out, The Child Whisperer includes tips for parents in supporting their children by gender and at different ages (Baby, Toddler, Pre-schooler, School Age, and High Schooler). The Child Whisperer provides insights into the learning and developmental tendencies of each type, and provides guidance on how to help each type develop their own unique gifts. One of my favorite sections in the book is the list of the Top 10 Things each type needs from their parents.

Understanding My Children

Understanding my children's dominant and secondary energy types has allowed me to finally
understand them at a much deeper level so that I can support them as individuals. Previously, I would often get frustrated at certain aspects of both of their personalities, mostly because they were different from myself and the way I do things. Now I am able to look at them from a perspective of understanding who they are and how they move through life, and that makes such a huge difference in having a happy, well-functioning household.

Here are some examples of how The Child Whisperer has made me a better parent:
  • I am a Type 3 with a secondary Type 2 energy. With my dominant Type 3 nature, I tend to move through life with swift determination, and love getting things done. With my secondary Type 2 nature, though, I am emotionally sensitive and love connecting with family and friends.
  •  My daughter is a Type 1 with a secondary Type 2 energy. I used to get frustrated with the fact that she would start a gazillion different projects, but finish hardly any of them. I would often tell her that she wasn't allowed to start anything else new until she finished her other projects. Well, it turns out that Type 1's have a gift for ideas. Ideas are the Type 1's gift to the world! I was imposing my own nature (that naturally wants to finish things) onto her; in doing so, I was stifling her own gift for having many new ideas. Now, I allow her to start as many different projects as she'd like, and instead of trying to make her finish them all, I help her learn to determine which projects are important enough to her that she would like to finish them. 
  • My son is a Type 2 with a secondary Type 4 energy.  Before learning about the energy types, I would very often tell him to hurry up, and would get frustrated that he seemed to take so long with tasks such as getting dressed, eating, getting buckled into the car, and many others.  After learning about the energy types, I realized that my son naturally has a much slower movement than I do. That doesn't mean that either of us is "wrong"; we're just different. Now I make sure to give him plenty of time for tasks, and I make sure to find other things to do while I am waiting for him so I don't get impatient and keep hurrying him.
  • With her fun-loving Type 1 nature, my daughter likes to turn everything into a game. With my own get-it-done mentality, I was often frustrated by this aspect of her personality, and would tell her to stop messing around. Now that I know about the energy types, I try to give her more freedom to find her own fun ways to accomplish things. I definitely still have some room for improvement with this, but I'm trying to support her nature. 
  • With his Type 2 nature, my son naturally plans things out in advance. His plans are very important to him, and with his Type 4, more serious secondary nature, he does not take it lightly when his plans are interrupted. Obstructed plans were the main cause of many of my son's emotional upsets, but I didn't quite understand that until I read The Child Whisperer. Now I can respect his plans, and let him take part when those plans need to change (often after giving him some alone time to process that there needs to be a change). This has made a tremendous difference in the number of emotional meltdowns.
These are just a few examples of how The Child Whisperer has helped us. It has been a real game-changer. Our relationships are better and I am now able to help my children overcome the challenges unique to each of their types, instead of trying to mold them to be more like myself.  I can't recommend this book enough!

Have you read The Child Whisperer? What is your favorite parenting book?

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Einkorn Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are such a classic recipe, and for good reason. The chocolate is melty, in a chewy, sweet base of cookie dough. Mmmm.

I like baking cookies with Einkorn flour. Einkorn is an ancient variety of wheat that has never been hybridized. It is naturally lower in gluten and higher in protein than modern wheat. Combined with butter, sucanat, sugar, and chocolate, this is an stupendous cookie.

I make these cookies using a combination of sucanat and sugar for the sweetener, for classic chocolate chip cookie flavor. However, sucanat can be used exclusively if you prefer to stick with only unrefined sweeteners.

Einkorn Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 32 cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the salt, baking soda, and Einkorn flour. Whisk it all together to break up any lumps.
  3. In another bowl (or stand-mixer), beat the softened butter, sucanat, and sugar together for a couple minutes, until well mixed and slightly lighter in color.
  4. In the meantime, combine the egg and vanilla extract in a small bowl. (I find that a Pyrex glass measuring cup works great for this because the pour spout makes it easy to add these ingredients to the mixer while it is running.) Do NOT mix up the egg at this point.
  5. Once the butter, sucanat, and sugar have become lighter in color, mix in the egg. With my stand-mixer, I can just pour in the egg while the mixer is still running.  Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to get everything incorporated well.
  6. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until everything is combined. Do not overmix this recipe, since there is gluten in the Einkorn flour and overmixing gluten results in tough baked goods.
  7. Mix in the chocolate chips. 
  8. Scoop the cookies onto greased cookie sheets (or line the cookie sheets with exopats, which are wonderful since the cookies never stick and are less likely to burn).  I like to use a 1-Tb scoop for consistently pretty cookies, but you could just use a spoon. Flatten the cookies slightly with the back of a spoon (or your fingers).
  9. Bake the cookies at 350 F for about 10-12 minutes. They are done when the edges are golden brown. Watch these closely, as extra time in the oven will make these cookies crunchy instead of chewy. If you have to cook subsequent batches on an already-warmed cookie sheet, start checking them for done-ness a couple minutes earlier.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes.  Then use a spatula to move them to a cooling rack.
  11. Once cool, store these cookies in an airtight container.  They can be stored at room temperature or in the freezer if you won't be eating them all in the next few days.  When eating these cookies from the freezer, I like to re-warm these cookies briefly in a toaster oven, for ooey gooey chocolate yumminess. Storing them in the freezer will also remove the pressure of having to eat them all in a week or so, as they will last for months in the freezer. 

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Homeschool World-Trip Without Leaving Home

Although we homeschool year-round, each summer I like to shift the focus of our homeschooling a bit. Some years, we have focused more on music and art, other years we have focused more on learning to swim, and other years we have focused more on nature study. This summer, I'm planning for us to take a trip around the world, but we'll do it without leaving home.

Taking a World Trip Without Leaving Home

To accomplish our world trip, I will be bringing together elements from different cultures around the world.  I plan to incorporate books, art, music, and recipes for each destination on our world trip.
This should be an engaging and entertaining way for us to learn about different cultures around the world.

Books That Highlight Different Cultures

The inspiration for our Homeschool World Trip came from three books that have recently come into our home:
  • "Hungry Planet: What the World Eats" by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio - This large book, filled with full-color photographs, shows what people around the world eat. While it focuses specifically on each family's weekly groceries, it also includes family recipes and a glimpse into the culture in each country.  
  • "Material World: A Global Family Portrait" by Peter Menzel - Like "Hungry Planet", this is a large book filled with full-color photographs. Instead of focusing on food, though, this book highlights the possessions and living conditions of people around the world. 
  • "Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time" by Jamie C. Martin - This book contains a wealth of information about books that give kids global perspective.  It includes over 600 children's book recommendations, categorized by different continents or areas of the world.
With these three books in-hand, it seemed like the next logical step to go on a virtual world tour with my children.  Each week, we will focus on a different country or region of the world. I will focus on places that are highlighted in "Hungry Planet" and "Material World", and will choose children's books from "Give Your Child the World" to supplement each location that we are exploring. 

Music and Art From Around the Globe

To broaden our perspective, I will be including art and music from around the globe during our world tour. I will feature international artwork in our ever-changing living room Art Appreciation display. We will also be digging further into art using Khan Academy's Art History resources, which include videos about art from many areas of the world. For music, we'll be relying on the World Music CD's available at our local library.


Recipes from Around the Globe

To get a taste of foods from around the world, we'll be trying out some of the recipes from "Hungry Planet", checking out books from the library about world cuisine, and sampling some of the international foods that are available at local restaurants. This will be a fun way to try out new foods, and perhaps find some new family favorites.

Language, Geography, and Science

We will also be spending a little time learning about the language, geography, and flora/fauna of each region that we visit on our World Tour. My daughter's eyes lit up when I asked if she would want to learn some simple phrases in the different languages from each region, as she thinks it will be so fun to speak to each other in different languages. I'll be relying on the internet to give us simple phrases in the languages spoken in each area. For geography, flora, and fauna, I'll be relying on library books. I generally find that the books in the adult section of the library are the best for finding beautiful, large pictures.


Putting It All Together

Our World Trip will be a fun way to expand our horizons this summer. I'll likely need to spend an hour or so each week planning out our world explorations for the coming week, but it should be well worth the time.  We're looking forward to the fresh, new experience of our summer World Tour.

Let me know if you are interested in seeing which specific resources, recipes, books, and CD's we end up using for each destination on our Homeschool World Trip.

Are you going on any trips this summer? What do you do differently during the summer in your home educational environment?


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Monday, June 13, 2016

Peach, Goat Cheese, and Basil Appetizer (grain-free : gluten-free)

With summer in full swing here, we are starting to find locally grown summertime fruits at the store. Early peaches have arrived, much to our delight.  I have crafted a very simple, delicious appetizer that combines peaches, fresh basil, and chevre (goat cheese). Yum!

Peach, Goat Cheese, and Basil Appetizer
  1. Slice the peaches and pick some basil leaves.
  2. Place one basil leaf on each cracker. Top with a couple crumbles of goat cheese and a slice of peach.
  3. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Add a small drizzle of honey if the peaches are not very sweet.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Why I Purposely Eat Both Refined and Whole Grains

There is much hype these days about eating whole grains. Breads, crackers, and cereals are covered with labels about their whole grain content. Amidst this, why do I purposely eat a combination of refined and whole grains?

Whole Grains in Traditional Diets

Weston A. Price's research into traditional diets around the globe showed that people who eat  nourishing, traditional foods have much better health than those who eat modern foods.  Rami Nagel's more recent research has increased our knowledge of traditional diets, and has uncovered the fact that, in traditional diets, much of the bran and germ from whole grains was actually discarded when the grains were ground into flour. It seems that the people knew, not from scientific research, but perhaps through experience and intuition, that there are parts of grains which are not nutritious and even act as anti-nutritients. Nowadays we have a name for the anti-nutrient in grains that is of most concern: Phytic Acid.
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Phytic Acid - Whole Grains' Dirty Little Secret

Whole grains are touted to be higher in nutrients than refined grains, and it is true that they do have more potential nutrients than refined grains. However, whole grains also contain phytic acid, which is an anti-nutrient because it can interfere with the absorption of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. This is why, in some cases, eating a lot of whole grains can actually have a detrimental effect on health, and lead to increased cavities.

Yet, traditional peoples the world-'round knew to discard much of the bran and germ from whole grains, thereby reducing the phytic acid content of their food. By reducing the phytic acid content of grains, they were likely able to assimilate more of the nutrients in their food. In Rami Nagel's research, he found that "the calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium in diets made up with 92 percent flour (almost whole wheat) were less completely absorbed than the same minerals in diets made up with 69 percent flour (with a significant amount of bran and germ removed)".

Sprouting, Souring, and Soaking to Neutralize Phytic Acid

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In addition to discarding much of the bran and germ from whole grains, people in traditional cultures purposely used techniques such as soaking, souring, and sprouting in the preparation of grains. Now, we have scientific research which clearly shows that soaking, souring, and sprouting whole grains reduces their phytic acid content. The bottom line is that, in ancestral diets, people purposely discarded parts of the whole grains, and they used soaking, souring, and sprouting to increase the nutrient value of the grains they consumed.

The vast majority of "whole grain" foods sold in stores are missing these vital steps which would reduce the phytic acid. When whole grains are consumed without these special preparation techniques, it is possible that the phytic acid in the grains can actually lead to worse health, as the vital nutrients in food won't be able to be used by the body. So instead of having increased nutrition due to their whole grain content, such whole grain foods can actually lead to nutrient deficiencies!

How My Family Eats Refined and Whole Grains

Grain-based foods form a significant part of my son's and my diet.  (My husband and daughter both still do best eating little or no grains, so they only eat grains occasionally.) Given unlimited time and resources, I would do as they did in traditional cultures by grinding fresh whole grains, discarding much of the bran and germ, and then soaking or sprouting the grains prior to cooking them. But the reality is that, over the last few years whilst homeschooling and practicing homeopathy, I have chosen to spend less time in the kitchen. There are too many competing priorities for me to spend hour upon hour preparing food each day. (Been there, done that, during the GAPS Diet, and I do NOT miss spending an average of 6 hours per day in the kitchen.)

So, instead of making all of my own bread and grain-based foods, I often rely on storebought items. I still try to roughly replicate what was done in traditional cultures, though, by doing the following:
  • My son and I eat a combination of refined grains and whole grains, so that the overall balance is more similar to what was consumed in traditional cultures.
  • I ensure that most of the whole grains we eat have been prepared with sprouting or soaking to neutralize the phytic acid anti-nutrient.


Our Current Favorite Grain-Based Products

The storebought grain-based items we currently rely on are:

In my home-prepared, grain-based foods, I rely on the following:
I feel like I have found a happy medium between the techniques used by traditional cultures and our modern-day lives. Within this framework, I don't worry much about getting things perfectly right. Stressing out over food is likely just as detrimental to health as eating poorly, so I strive for a relaxed attitude within our mostly-nutritious diets. 

Do you eat grains? Did you know about phytic acid - whole grains' "dirty little secret"? What have you found works best for you? 


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